While attending the Migrant Crisis Forum a couple of weeks ago I also got the chance to hear a talk given on the well publicized EU refugee crisis. The speaker was making the argument that the crisis is an existential crisis for both the refugees and the EU.
For the EU this meaning revolves around rule of law and the protection of human rights; the recent condemnation of the EU in their handling of this crisis makes their failure to respond evident. It is important to also note that prior to the current refugee crisis the EU had a glowing record in the area of human rights. In fact, in 2012 the EU won a noble prize for upholding human rights and the laws that protect those rights.
Recently the EU has faced the most condemnation for their decision to formulate an agreement with Turkey. This embrace of Turkey, which lacks the EU’s record as far as human rights are concerned and is in no way an established safe haven for these refugees, reflects poorly on the EU as a whole, and goes against the very laws that they have perviously been lauded for upholding.
A key point in these UN and EU laws that this new agreement with Turkey has tossed to the wolves is the every so important concept that there can be “no collective explosion”. According to this new agreement, and demonstrated through the implementation of this agreement, there is clearly collective explosion. Those refugees on Lesbos have gone from staying in refugee camps that were a stepping stone to freedom in the EU to staying in fenced and guarded detention camps.
Another point in EU and UN laws that is meant to protect refugees states that a refugee can’t be returned to the place from which they are seeking refuge. The EU has a set number of refugees they are taking in from Turkey; in return the EU will pay 3.3 billion dollars. The refugees that the EU will take will come from Turkey, not from places like Lesbos; people have risked life an limb in an attempt to get closer to entering the EU now risk being sent back to places like Syria which is a clear violation of not only EU and UN laws, but Turkish laws as well.
To those who argue that refugees aren’t being sent back, Amnesty International has fully documented many cases of entire families being returned to the very places they risked everything to flee from.
To make maters even worse these detention centers found on Lesbos are denying NGOs and other non-profit groups access to help these individuals not only deserving, but also desperate for help.
In closing the speaker made the statement that given the domestic pressures in the EU one could easily surmise that the EU has outsourced its refugee crisis to Turkey. Personally I entirely agree with that statement, and if the outsourcing of a human refugee crisis like a complicated computer algorithm doesn’t represent an existential crisis I hate to think what crisis would.